Three weeks of the Open are all wrapped up, and Dani Speegle is on the path towards earning her first trip to the CrossFit Games.
She currently sits third overall, and if she qualifies there will be an added bonus of getting to share the accomplishment with her coach, training partner and boyfriend Alex Gordon.
The dynamic of having a significant other for a coach in sports can be complicated, but it hasn’t swayed Speegle and Gordon in the midst of a spectacular 2019 season.
“Obviously dancing around the boyfriend-coach dynamic can be difficult at times, like mixing business with pleasure but we’ve gotten into a good groove,” Speegle said.
Their relationship began years prior on the competition floor and in the gym, which is about as organic as you can get in CrossFit.
“We were on the same regionals team in 2017, which is how we met,” Speegle said. “We started working out a lot together which is where our relationship started, we trained together leading up to 2018 Regionals.”
“He knows me better than anyone, my strengths, my weaknesses, my attitude on good and bad days, when I’m tired and need to have a lighter training day and when I just need to eat and stop complaining.”
But after Regionals and finishing just three spots away from qualifying, Speegle realized she needed a full-time coach that “would program for me, dial in my nutrition, keep me on track, the works.” Gordon was up to the task.
“I want to be excellent at my craft and I want to continuously learn and evolve with the sport as it grows,” Gordon said. “I’m trying to push the boundaries of fitness and you have to want to work your ass off to do the type of training we do, which [Dani] does.
The desire and drive to be great – while certainly admirable – is fairly common amongst aspiring coaches, and alone isn’t enough to dictate success in this sport. There has to be a genuine connection between athlete and coach, and it’s something that Gordon and Speegle’s relationship outside of the gym has helped develop over time.
Speegle admits: “He knows me better than anyone, my strengths, my weaknesses, my attitude on good and bad days, when I’m tired and need to have a lighter training day,” and perhaps most importantly, “and when I just need to eat and stop complaining.”
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Some of that knowledge and connection comes from Gordon working out alongside Speegle which he feels has added to her success over time. “When you have someone “going to hell” with you everyday it’s easier to do it than when you’re just training alone. It’s harder to push yourself to that level alone.”
The success and nature of their relationship isn’t out of the ordinary in the sport of fitness. Case in point, Tia-Clair Toomey, who’s husband Shane Orr is also her coach. They’ve managed to reach the pinnacle of the sport, and stand on the precipice of history as Tia is looking for a record 3rd straight title in 2019.
In a similar vein to Toomey and Orr, getting to share triumphs only adds to the experience for Speegle. “It’s pretty incredible to find someone who you can share everything with,” she reflected, “Your passions, your dreams, your goals – they align perfectly.”
Still, the job is far from over. Two weeks remain in the Open, and who knows how many scored workouts still remaining. Things are looking good though for the Speegle/Gordon tandem, as Speegle sits in 4th overall worldwide, their goal in reach and at the forefront of her mind.
“He wants me to be successful in this sport, and he wants to be the coach who gets me there.”